I posted earlier this month on God's compassion for the fatherless, and this is really a follow-up to that post. The question remains, if God has a heart for orphans, what should our response be? November being National Adoption Awareness Month, I've been focusing many of my posts on adoption. However, I realize not everyone is in a situation where they are able to adopt a child. As Christians, in light of the knowledge that millions of orphans worldwide will not be adopted, what is our responsibility toward them? I've already shared what God's requirements were for Israel. He demanded that orphans be treated with justice, that a portion of the harvest be left to feed them, and that a portion of the tithe be used to help provide for them. God spelled it out clearly for the Israelites that they were to care for the fatherless.
Jesus further explains in Mathew that when He returns in all His glory He will separate His people from those who were merely among them. To those who are truly His He will say, "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in, I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me."
Then His righteous people look at Him perplexed and say, "Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?" And Jesus, the King will answer them, "Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethern, you did it to Me." (See Mathew 25:31-46)
I think what Jesus is saying here is that if we really belong to Him, we will be compassionate. How can we have Christ in us and not be compassionate? Not only that, but the outcasts of society are the ones listed in this passage that are deserving of our compassion: those who are hungry and thirsty, foreigners, sick , imprisoned. Certainly helpless orphans fit into this category!
John says it this way. "Whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?" (1 John 3:17) Now I know some will argue about the interpretation of "brother", but it doesn't change the message of this verse, or the whole book of 1 John for that matter. The message is if you're a Christian, you will love others. And John makes it clear what this love looks like. "My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth." (1 John 3:18)
Christians have an obligation to care for those that have no one else. Orphans are at the top of this list. And while there are many wonderful organizations that feed and clothe orphans, my favorites are those that give them spiritual food. My personal favorite ministry that provides orphan care is Rafiki Foundation, which operates in 10 countries in Africa. Rafiki was started as a ministry outreach of the international branch of Bible Study Fellowship. Their number one priority is teaching the Word of God in Africa. The following quote from their website nicely sums up their mission in Africa. "Since our goal is to develop these children to be godly contributors to their countries in Africa, we do not facilitate the adoption of these children out of their countries, nor do we plan on educating them in the United States. Instead, we will raise and educate them in their home countries so that they will remain and provide the much needed leadership and help in their own culture."
So getting back to my original question about what our response should be...let's all pray about how we can help, even if it's in a very small way. Just $25/month will usually feed these kids (amazing considering I spent $300 at Walmart today for our family of 7 for one week!) and lots of child sponsorship programs ask for only $50/month to cover most of a child's monthly expenses including clothing and education. I know there are many wonderful orphan relief agencies caring for the fatherless all over the world. What's you favorite? I would love to compile a list of Christian orphan care ministries. What an amazing blessing it will be to share in what God's doing in the lives of orphans, right here in our own community and around the world.
- I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.